Jesus Barabbas

Yesterday I chatted with Duncan about the prefixes bin- and ben-, which mean ‘son of’ in Arabic and Hebrew, respectively. Then I remembered about their cognate in Aramaic, bar-. In his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Bauckham devoted a chapter on the names of the Palestinian Jewish people (e.g., Paul was not considered among the Palestinian Jewish people, since he was born in Tarsus, so he was grouped among the Jewish Diaspora) around the era of Jesus, so I still remembered a few examples of names with the prefix bar- in our New Testament:

1. Barabbas (Mrk 15.7): bar- + abbas, which means Son of the Father. In Indonesian, literally it will be translated as ‘Anak Bapakku.’ What’s your name? My name is Anak Bapakku (admittedly, it didn’t need to be his first name, it might be his nickname).

2. Barnabas (Acts 4.36): bar- + nabas, which means Son of the Prophet (nabas ~ nabi). Luke told us that it means ‘son of encouragement’ (4.36), but of course a prophet is the one who encourages and comforts the people.

3. Bartimaeus (Mrk 10.46-52): bar- + timaeus, which means Son of Timaeus.

4. Bartholomew (Mrk 3.18): bar- + tholomaius. The Aramaic form of Tholomaius is Tolmay, and it is associated with the more popular Greek name Ptolemy.

Anyway, then we focused on Barabbas. Because, interestingly, Barabbas’ first name was Jesus (Mat 27.18). His complete name was Jesus Barabbas. Hence, if we read back the scene of choosing between Barabbas and Jesus (of Nazareth) theologically, in the light of our confession that Jesus is the Son of the Father, we would be faced with an intriguing situation where the Jews needed to choose between Jesus Barabbas and Jesus Barabbas; Jesus son of his father and Jesus Son of the Father (of course, if it were read historically, Pilate differentiated the two Jesuses by saying that one was Jesus Barabbas and the other one was Jesus who was called Christ).

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